Ruby on Rails chose me

I have been a C# developer and a Java developer and I have run both C# and Java teams.  When I was recruiting, particularly in the Java domain, I would find myself wading through mind-boggling arrays of acronyms and frameworks listed on candidates’ CVs.  It was often difficult to gauge if some or all of a candidate’s technologies were relevant to our own particular platform (or indeed whether the candidate was actually proficient in any of them).  Variety is often the spice of life, but sometimes it is counter-productive.

I am hopeless at making decisions, so the thought of choosing a web technology stack to learn from scratch was daunting.  Plus, I was not looking for even more terms to litter my own CV.  There were many options (and attractions); PHP-based (Drupal), Java-based (Groovy), .Net-based (ASP.NET MVC, Azure) and more.  As I investigated each one, I found myself tumbling down yet another rabbit hole; lost in myriad browser tabs.

Then I investigated Ruby.  As a C# and Java developer, I found the expressive power of Ruby fascinating and the structure of the language very refreshing; but that wasn’t the killer feature.  There are many Ruby resources out there, sure; but if you are doing web development on Ruby, then you use Rails.  End of.  That’s what clinched it.  I didn’t even have to make a decision.

The next daunting challenge was to get Ruby on Rails running on my machine.  I’m not particularly hardcore; I’ve never been one for building from source; I like to press a button and have everything done for me.  I was expecting hours of configuration hell, forum trawling and text file hacking before the ubiquitous “Hello World” would, at last, proudly appear in my browser.

Not so.  I downloaded and installed the kit from and that was it.  There is very accessible documentation at making it particularly easy to get started.

I love it when things just work.  And Rails just works.  In every sense.  It is concise, logical, intuitive and well conceived.  Convention over configuration is a new concept to me and the more I see it the more it feels right.  I think I may become a bit of a fan.

In the next post, I’ll discuss how I chose an IDE.


6 thoughts on “Ruby on Rails chose me

  1. I think you missed a bunch of great PHP frameworks, rather than trying to look at Drupal (a CMS!) – but your point is valid – Ruby people tend to know Rails, but most other (web) programming languages are very fragmented.

    Keep it up – Looking forward to reading more from this, as we’re thinking about migrating over to Rails at some point shortly.

    • Hi Alex, thanks for the feedback. I think Drupal could almost qualify as a platform! Nevertheless, I was listing it here as one of the attractions (and by no means the only one) of choosing PHP. I’ve also managed a team of experienced PHP developers, so I’ve had some exposure to PHP frameworks.
      I hope you find some useful content here, I intend to post about what routes (pardon the pun!) I choose and why and any pitfalls I overcome along the way.

  2. Hi Ben,
    I will be very interested to see what routes(I love a good pun) you choose. I am a noobie to object oriented programming/Ruby/Rails after 20+ years of working on an IBM mainframe.

    • Hi Ross,
      That’s quite a learning curve, taking on OO and Ruby on Rails together! But extremely rewarding I expect. The MVC paradigm in Rails is a fantastic example of the power of OO design patterns. Different languages implement OO in slightly different ways and from what I’ve seen of Ruby so far, its OO is very flexible and very powerful.
      Expect escalated punning in the next post…

  3. I was in a similar boat. For me, it was Python and Django. After feeling extremely frustrated with the constant configurations with Django, I picked up rails. You said it yourself. Rails just works. It was wonderful and fantastic. I have pretty much fallen in love with ruby on rails. Awesome blog, looking forward to more.

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